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DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631220398.2000.x


Gothic is the only member of the East Germanic subgroup of the * Germanic languages for which significant textual evidence survives. Other East Germanic dialects were probably spoken by the Vandals, Burgundians, Gepids, Rugians and Herulians. Gothic is of crucial importance for Germanic philology in providing the oldest large corpus of text in a Germanic language. Gothic retains archaic features (such as an inflected present passive and a dual number in verbs and pronouns), but also shows significant innovations. These include levelling of consonant alternations in the strong verb paradigm and loss of the instrumental case, both these features being preserved in West Germanic. Apparent archaisms, such as the fourth class of weak verbs, may in fact be innovations, and other archaisms, such as the retention of full vowels in unstressed syllables and the use of reduplication to mark the past tense, are shared by West Germanic languages. In relative terms, therefore, Old High German could be regarded as more archaic. The account of the 6th-c. Gothic historian Jordanes, according to which the Goths migrated from Scandinavia ( ex Scandza insula ) to Gothiscandza (probably the area around the mouth of the Vistula) in the early 1st century BC, is generally accepted as being substantially correct. During the 2nd c, AD, they migrated again to the area north of the Black Sea (see * Crimean ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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